Attorney for Rick's Cabaret Challenges City of Minneapolis' After-Hours Entertainment Policy

MINNEAPOLIS - First Amendment attorney Randall Tigue told Tuesday the City of Minneapolis' latest attempt to prevent Rick's Cabaret, a popular topless nightclub, from staying open after hours was fruitless.
"I'm at a loss on this," Tigue said. "How many times do these government officials needs to get hit over the head by a two-by-four? The city is persisting on appealing when they know full well they've been hammered on these identical issues twice in the past."
Rick's obtained a temporary injunction in January 2000 from the Hennepin County District Court that permits topless performances to continue until 3 a.m., despite the repeal of a Minneapolis ordinance regarding after-hours entertainment. But the city has now taken the case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, where arguments will commence early next year.
"The city made a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the lawsuit and the district court denied it, so the city is appealing," Tigue said.
The current fight is based on Rick's Cabaret's application to the city in December 1999 in which it asked to continue operating between 1-3 a.m. Since the city took no action on the application for a year, the company filed suit in December 1999 challenging both the ordinance and the application process as unconstitutional. In addition, it sought damages of more than $1 million in lost revenue.
Until its repeal last month, the 1998 ordinance allowed central business district nightspots to stay open from 1-3 a.m. to provide entertainment, but not to serve liquor.
"We got an injunction saying you folks can operate whether they give you a license or not. This time around, Rick's threw in a claim for damages," Tigue said.
The City has lost two other cases pertaining to adult entertainment in the past two decades. In Tigue's 1987 case of Alexander v. Bergquist, the court declared that the city's theater and place of entertainment licensing ordinances were unconstitutional because they permitted the city to hold up license applications indefinitely; and in Mga Susu, Inc. v. City of Minneapolis (1996), the District Court issued an injunction against the city in another licensing application case involving the all-nude 418 Club.
Tigue said the transcript of the current proceeding must be submitted by Friday, and then the city has 30 days to file a brief. After that, Rick's has 30 days to respond.
"Once the city appeals the injunction to the Court of Appeals, it loses the ability to go back to district court as long as the appeal is pending," Tigue said, adding that Rick's would likely find itself in a unique position next month.
"The late-night license expires on Dec. 31, and everybody that has a license, come Dec. 31, will have to close at 1, except for Rick's."
The Texas-based Rick's is the only publicly traded company in the topless entertainment business. Rick's owns and/or operates four Rick's Cabaret locations in Houston and Minneapolis, and two XTC Cabarets located in San Antonio and Austin.



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